Seven months after seeing Saba Douglas-Hamilton give a lecture at The Platform in Morecambe, my family and I headed to the same venue for another wildlife-related show: Wildlife Road Trip, featuring Martin Hughes-Games and Iolo Williams. These two are currently best known for being presenters on the BBC nature series Springwatch, and its associated shows Autumnwatch and Winterwatch, which are aired on an annual basis in live broadcasts.
Martin began by talking about the earlier stages of his career, and how he became a producer for the BBC after getting his zoology degree. I was surprised to learn that he had worked on some of the documentaries I remembered from my childhood, including one called Nightmares Of Nature; Martin recalled filming a scene which particularly horrified me when I was eight, depicting a reconstruction of vampire bats attacking a baby. Of course, the bats never actually got near the baby (which also survived in the real-life incident on which the reconstruction was based, in case you’re worried.) Iolo then took over, explaining how he had started out working for the RSPB: he had some serious stories about combating egg thieves and the persecution of hen harriers, but also inserted a good dose of humour, such as the time that a friend had hidden in a bin in the hopes of spying on a meeting between two notorious egg collectors.
After the interval, Iolo was back to talk more about his subsequent work on TV: not just for Springwatch, but overseas as well. Recalling his encounter with gorillas in Uganda, he noted how the combination of big bellies and a vegetarian diet actually makes them extremely flatulent, something David Attenborough failed to get across in Life On Earth! Martin rounded off by describing a typical day on the set of Springwatch, before the live broadcast in the evening; he highlighted the sheer number of people behind the scenes and how much effort and preparation is behind each hour-long programme.
It was another brilliant and worthwhile evening, where I also managed to get a signed copy of Martin’s book, A Wild Life!